Seoul Forest

At Seoul Forest, many families were out lounging on blankets, enjoying the sunshine and flowers. I spent my time wandering around silently, looking at all of the plants.

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It’s a large place, but, as I was short on time that day, I only caught a bit of what it has to offer. I have to find time to go back soon!

Thanks for reading,

Emme

Common Ground (Seoul)

Common Ground is peak urban aesthetic. The big, blue shipping containers stand out sharply against the neutral grays of the surrounding buildings. I kept expecting to see bike racks mounted everywhere, or a bunch of succulents nestled in a neat row…

One cafe, Dore Dore, does have rainbow cake as its signature item. It was impossible to resist buying a piece for myself.

As I tucked into my cake, two students were plugged into their laptops, studying Korean intently. This area’s near Konkuk university and the overall atmosphere reflects that proximity.

An elevated walkway — made of metal and glass — connects the two main clusters of containers to each other. The rooftop levels are mainly restaurants and cafes. Inside, the lower levels are packed full of modern clothing shops.

The shopping prices are not kind and, overall, the area is fairly small…but the photo opportunities are excellent. Especially if you like the color blue.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

The East Sea

It was cold. It was foggy. Wanting to climb the rocks, I quickly gave up on using my umbrella. The rain soaked into my jacket, leaving my skin damp.

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I loved every second of it.

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Due to the nature of the bus tour, we didn’t have as much time here as I would have liked. …Although, I would’ve liked to have been there all day long, and that’s a good recipe for pneumonia.

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I hadn’t visited a seashore on a day like this since my trip to Portland, Maine. Nothing beats fog and rain in my book.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

 

Gameunsaji (Gameunsa Temple Site)

Another stop on the Gyeongju city tour was Gameunsaji.

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Pagodas!

Gameunsa temple was built in the 7th century to honor King Munmu, the king who managed to unify the three ancient kingdoms of Korea (Silla, Goguryeo, and Baekje). The temple is gone now, but the pagodas are still there. They’re each three stories tall and, in a word, impressive.

There were many people on this tour, but this area did not feel crowded. And certainly not noisy. The wind shifted through the trees, and the occasional bird let out a cry. Those were the only noises you could hear at this place.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

 

Golgusa Temple

One day, my friends and I went on the Gyeongju city tour. We opted for the East Sea tour, which starts off at Golgusa Temple.

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Golgusa Temple

Apparently, Golgulsa is the only temple cave in Korea. It sits snugly against Mt. Hamwol, with a smiling Buddha sculpture resting at the top.

The walk up to the temple isn’t suitable for people who hate heights. I, on the other hand, have always lacked a sense of self-preservation, and so I eagerly zig-zagged my way up to the temple. I only stopped to briefly take in the various alcoves–full of smaller buddhas–that were scattered along the path.

It was a rainy day when we were there, too, which added the extra thrill of slippery rock platforms to the mix. The safety rails and ropes were wonderful!

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Once at the top, all I could do was stare.

As far as tours go, this one had an impressive first stop.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

Bamboo

There are days when I think that I’m completely settled into my life here in Korea and that nothing will thrill me anymore.

And then there are days when I see something as ordinary as bamboo and get all excited again because there is no bamboo where I come from. That’s so wild. 

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What is it about bamboo that sparks the desire to explore? Whenever I see bamboo, I always have to go inside of it and look around.

I’m going to Kyoto, Japan in July just to see the bamboo forest there. I can’t wait to be thrilled by it!

Thanks for reading,

Emme

Tumuli Park (Daereungwon Tomb Complex)

The Tumuli Park in Gyeongju, South Korea looks like one large Windows XP screensaver.

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See?

A tumulus (plural tumuli) is an artificial mound of earth raised over a grave. Tumuli are also known as barrows or burial mounds.

The tumuli in Gyeongju are quite large. They do a great job of making you feel really small.

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Just look at how tiny we look by comparison

Cheonmachong Tomb, which is normally open to the public, is currently closed for maintenance. The park is worth seeing all on its own, though.

I enjoyed walking between the mounds and just taking in the quiet atmosphere.

There were many types of trees bumping elbows (branches?) in this one space, too.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

Take a Walk

I love living in a city where I don’t need a car to get around. Walking gives me time to slow down and take everything in properly.

For example, I saw this path while randomly wandering around dujeongdong.

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That path led to this. Instead of walking in the road, I walked a good ten blocks through the grass and trees.

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Later on, I went on a hour-long walk to the Shinsegae area. I was pouring sweat by the time I arrived, so this shady area was a delight.

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Hooray for walking and warm weather!

Thanks for reading,

Emme

Greenery

I’ve been complaining for weeks about the lack of parks in my neighborhood….but I feel downright sheepish about that now. The parks were there all along; I just didn’t know where to look.

It certainly helps that spring’s arrived. Gives me motivation to go outside and poke around.

Thanks to a friend of mine, I now know that a nearby hill/mountain is full of hiking trails. (And by hill/mountain, I mean that it rides that line between being too small to be a mountain and too big to be a hill. Such is the way…)

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Like I said, I’m feeling sheepish. But pretty relieved, too.

Thanks for reading,

Emme

 

Walnut Cookies

Walnut cookies (호두과자) originated in Cheonan, South Korea. They’re walnut-shaped and hefty enough to rest solidly in the palm of your hand, thanks to the thick red bean paste inside of each of them.

I am a sucker for anything sugary and these cookies are no exception to that rule. Recently I bought a bag of them from a vendor at Cheonan Station and then proceeded to eat the entire lot on my own in one sitting.

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I’ve seen them being sold everywhere here (i.e. Korea), particularly in Seoul and Cheonan. It’s always really hard to resist them. The smell of them alone sends me straight into a primal state of being where the thought of food, food, food takes over everything else in my brain.

Which is why I rarely resist eating them. *shrugs*

If you come visit, do yourself a favor and try one. It goes without saying that they are delicious.

I’m probably going to take advantage of my local privilege and buy another bag this morning, actually.

Thanks for reading,

Emme